The past year has been a glorious one for digital marketers, and 2017 shouldn’t be any different. The flurry of online marketing via websites, social media, blogs, search engines, and other digital platforms will be unstoppable, as it aims to attract audiences in the hope of converting them into customers. Businesses will all be in a tight race analyzing and fine-tuning their marketing strategies, especially inbound marketing.
According to HubSpot, inbound marketing “focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”
Compared with the rather “pushy” approach in outbound marketing or the traditional approach of marketing products and services in print or broadcast media, which later grew into digital forms as well such as email campaigns and banner ads, inbound marketing focuses on creating content that answers customers’ needs and which content marketers need to optimize to “attract, convert, close, and delight” leads.
All Roads Lead to Inbound Marketing
The mode of delivering the marketing message, from traditional to digital, was not the only thing that changed over the last decade or so. As more and more people went online to search for information, brands began to leverage that need for content. These days, a customer doing a single search may face a plethora of options, that is, brands promoting their products or services through inbound marketing.
Due to these shifts in the marketing landscape, the concept of the “second act of inbound marketing” has been proposed by HubSpot. In a nutshell, it means that changing prospect behavior in searching, evaluating, and buying products is giving rise to another chapter in the history of inbound marketing.
The following describes the current scenarios in inbound marketing for 2017:
1. Video content is a must.
Video content in today’s marketing is a “must have” rather than being simply an attractive option. With videos, content can be concise, candid, entertaining, and engaging, which is everything that online users love.
In addition, videos allow marketers to explore with more free rein how they’ll be presenting their content. They can include visual images, music, and all the works, or they may choose to go no-frills with very basic elements like what captioned videos are.
Inbound marketers are not necessarily dropping textual content, rather complementing text with video content. Creating content in video form and sharing it on YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook has been noticeably gaining traction among inbound companies.
2. Experiences are being socialized.
Social media communities are the go-to place for people looking to make connections, share or crowdsource ideas, initiate conversations, and many others. That’s why marketers are becoming more social too. Not having a social media site or a social app for a brand is a missed golden opportunity, so to speak.
With social media, the possibilities are endless. Digital marketers could, as previously mentioned, use the platform for publishing their video content. They could link their website to the company’s social site or use messaging platforms to bring them closer to their customers. Social media-savvy content is in high demand, too.
To boil things down, mainstream social media widens the market reach of businesses so that they don’t rely on Google search alone for audiences to find them.
3. Automation in buying is preferable.
Since the goal of inbound marketing is to win customers over, marketers are wise to give them what they want, and that includes automating the buying process.
This is where websites with self-service functions are proving to be very handy for customers. Through such websites, buyers can make direct purchases. Additionally, they are receiving the exact, on-demand information they need by seeking the help of sales reps on live chats as soon as they decide that they’re ready to make that purchase.
Apart from self-service features, today’s websites are also being designed to provide a more up-close-and-personal experience for customers all throughout the buying process. Personalized services always present win-win solutions, as brands try to stand out from the competition and as customers see their expectations being met.
4. And the new king is… still content.
The “content is king” mantra is just not ready to make an exit just yet. However, it’s in the way that content is delivered that matters the most now for both the audience and digital marketing professionals.
Experts recommend that marketers use content marketing and paid marketing in concert to scale things up. Thus, marketing teams are customizing content to cater to multiple channels and with some help from content advertising.
An example is the answer box that one finds replete with content when they make a search on Google. Rather than clicking on a host of links, search boxes are making it easy for customers to find answers to their questions at the exact moment that they need them.
On that account, content marketers are allotting budget for search engine advertising. Plus, Facebook now allows users to complete forms straight from their newsfeeds so that the pay is now per lead rather than per click.
Last but not least, content marketing trends are leaning more toward short-form content over long-form ones. This is so as customer behavior shows an ever-decreasing attention span when consuming content online.
Headlines alone have to be crafted in such a way that every word should count. Video testimonials, infographics, live streaming—these content forms are shaping the way audiences are dictating how content should be delivered to them.
In sum, inbound marketing is in a truly exciting stage at this time, with great focus on diversified content, complementary strategies, and positive customer experience. Indeed, inbound marketing is quite a complex methodology, but when done correctly, it has a huge potential to attract the attention of and win over customers. Ergo, inbound marketers have that responsibility to educate, inspire, and engage audiences at every possible opportunity.
Featured Image: Flickr
Note: This is a guest submission from Dai Carillo.
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